North Korea’s most vulnerable are ‘at risk of starving’ as economy worsens due to self-imposed coronavirus blockade, and UN sanctions imposed on nation’s nuclear programs should be relaxed, a UN human rights expert said on Wednesday.
The impoverished nation has been behind a rigid blockade since the start of last year to protect itself from the pandemic, the economy suffering and trade with its key partner, China, shrinking into a net.
In June, KCTV admitted that North Korea was facing a “food crisis,” sounding the alarm bells in a country with a dying agricultural sector that has long struggled to feed the population.
In the same month, leader Kim Jong Un said the food situation “was getting tense”.
Ordinary North Koreans “struggle daily (…).
Pyongyang is the subject of several rounds of international sanctions for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which saw rapid progress under Kim.
Quintana said these restrictions should be relaxed to protect the country’s most vulnerable in the face of a severe food shortage.
“The most vulnerable children and the elderly are at risk of starving to death,” he said.
“Sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council should be reviewed and relaxed as necessary to facilitate both humanitarian and life-saving assistance.
The report comes about three months after the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said North Korea faces a food shortage of around 860,000 tonnes this year and could experience a “period of difficult welding “.
Pyongyang has remained on the sidelines of talks over its nuclear program since a failed second summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump in Hanoi and has pushed back South Korean efforts to restart dialogue.
Under President Joe Biden, the United States has repeatedly declared its willingness to meet with North Korean officials, while declaring that it will seek denuclearization.
But this week, Kim blamed Washington for the tensions on the peninsula and insisted that Pyongyang’s weapons were for self-defense and not aimed at any particular country.
cdl / slb / axn